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JenM Offline OP
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Things seemed to have been going well for a while. I seemed to be having more good days than bad days until the day before yesterday.

We received my brother's death certificate FINALLY after the co-owner of the funeral home called the governor on Friday who in turn called the ME's office, and voila! What do you know? We had the DC on Tuesday. Now I wish we had never even gotten it.

I don't know why I expected differently about what the cause of death would be, but I did. I really did. I put up with the jabs at the funeral home, the uncalled for and rude comments both at the funeral home and in my own home, the rumors floating around about how he was found (which weren't true). I defended the last moment he spent on earth and said there was no WAY that it was an overdose, intentional or unintentional. Well, guess what? Cause of death was accidental overdose of non-prescribed hydrocodone (vicodin) and alcohol intoxication. <img src="/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" /> At first, the week after he died, I figured it was something like that, but then something shifted in me and I talked myself right into believing that it wasn't true. That it would end up having something to do with his asthma or a heart attack, something, anything different than what I should have expected from him and the way he would die.

So now I feel...well, first and foremost, I am angry, really, really angry. Secondly, I am totally embarrassed and ashamed. I just had to call his employer because they needed to know "accidental or suicide" for their paperwork. So I tried to get away with saying "accidental" and let it go without saying any more, but, of course, the owner's wife, in her most sincerest voice, asked what happened? Of course, I couldn't lie, which I had planned on doing, but I just can't lie. So I told her and she was like "Uh-oh." This is a small county, I am sure by the end of the day, the rumors will be flying once again (they just seemed to have died down in the past two weeks). I am so ashamed and I don't know why!? <img src="/images/graemlins/confused.gif" alt="" /> I didn't do it, it wasn't me. WHY do I feel this way? Lastly, I am hurt. How could he be that dumb? He was an intelligent man, he was always intelligent, above intelligent, but had had an ongoing drug problem since he was 12 years old. He had been in 3 different treatment programs when he was a teenager and every single one, he was thrown out of. He had just gotten off a six-month term of house arrest the week before he died. He had been caught growing the biggest pot field this county has ever seen. I knew he was drinking on house arrest, but I didn't think he was doing any drugs.

So, now, I sit here not really knowing if it was an accident or whether he did it on purpose. I know he took my dad's death pretty hard because he had been horrible to my father, stealing a dying man's pain medication and sedatives, and various other atrocities, to the point that when my dad was released from the hospital, he couldn't even go back to his own house because it wasn't safe with my brother there, so he decided to come and live with me, which I am very thankful that I got to take care of him. Anyway, I know he felt guilty of how he treated my dad and the things he did. I talked to him about it and he cried his eyes out and he said he didn't have anyone to talk to about it because none of his friends understood. I couldn't talk to him very much because there was a lot of animosity between us over the care of my dad, him not doing his part and actually making it harder on all of us by doing the crazy stuff that he did, to the point that I was scared of him enough to carry a gun. I think in one of my other posts, I said that I hadn't gotten around to forgiving him before he died, which in turn led to a ton of guilt, almost like felt like a pile of bricks.

So now I sit here crying because I will never know what happened, but it was clear he was doing his same old-same old, and the rest of us get to sit here for the rest of our lives dealing with not really knowing if it was accident or suicide, dealing with the shame and embarrassment, the guilt, and the hurt, while he gets to "rest in peace." <img src="/images/graemlins/mad.gif" alt="" />

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Chipmunk
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Oh, Jennifer, I am so sorry to hear about your brother. You need to understand that you have every right to be angry and hurt but you have nothing to feel guilty about. You are internalizing embarrassment and shame for your brother that you don't deserve. Unfortunately, he had a sickness, one that began in his teens. My brother has the same illness and it is called addiction/alcoholism. Nobody knows for sure why some people taste alcohol or drugs and become addicted while others do not, but one thing is for sure, they are sick. Many times they are intelligent, very bright individuals who might not have the best self esteem and need alot of approval from friends and family. They tend to popular but not always the nicest group of people, users, as some people refer to them, but very popular and fun to be around.

I talk about my brother because I can't do anything about him and he has taught me, through his AA steps that nobody but the individual himself (or herself) can "fix" it. The family does suffer alot from the poor choices and mistakes that are made, but we must keep in mind that it is an illness and we should not just be enablers for the disease. In the last 25 years my brother has put himself in precarious situations that could have taken his life numerous times (from fast cars, to drinking and drugs, to living on the street, to jail, to rehab, living 12 steps).

He and my father did not get along, either. All the times that my brother tried to go straight, I would believe him, trust him, help him, but Dad could always see through him. I had the same animosity toward my brother because he was too busy to share his life with Dad when he was younger and he was in trouble too often when he was older and got sick and Dad needed help. I was the only one to take care of him, but I am so grateful for the fact that I was able to do that for my Dad, because we had a chance to have closure. My brother never got that. I can only carry my own guilt as well as my own pride and happiness. We are all each responsible for our own actions. My Dad always said that you would have to "make the bed you lie in".

The tears that your brother shed was for himself; they were for the disease he had that he did not know how to control; they showed his emotional state and his mental ability to decide how to act and determine what was right and wrong. With a disease of addiction/alcoholism, the primary desire is the next fix, and then to get more of it. Don't feel guilty or try to figure out what your brother was thinking, or if he was trying to do something or if it was accidental. When a "sick" person is trying to get that "high", or get "higher", they are not thinking about the consequences or what might happen. My brother says that when he is after drugs that intently, he really isn't thinking at all about anything else but drugs.

I don't want you to feel bad. I hope that you can get over your anger. I pray that the things I've said can make you realize his death was an accident, a horrible accident caused by a tragic disease that is gripping this nation and touching many, many families today. Don't be hard on yourself. I'll pray that peace finds you and covers you like a soft hug from heaven whenever you feel low.

May your guardian angel stay close to you during the coming weeks and months and help you find your way back to peace and happiness. <img src="/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

Your friend,

Trish

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Also keep in mind, that as you said, he was very depressed over your Dad's passing away as well.

I suffer from severe depression myself and at one time was hospitalized for it. I was very surprised to find that they put depression and drug/alcohol problems in the same unit. The reason? Because they stem from the same basic problem- depression, we just deal with it differently (ie - I don't have a problem turning to drugs).

It is quite probable that your brother, in his grief, completely lost track of what he had taken. He was more than likely just trying to umb himself in the only way he knew how. So please do not drive yourslef crazy over "accident" or not. in this case I feel it is safe to assume it was - I'm sure the ME took into account how long each of the medications had been in his body, and that was why they ruled it accidental as opposed to suicide.

Also, this is not your fault, nor your shame. It is your grief - which anger is a real part of - so go ahead and feel that.

As for anyone who feels they need to comment on this tragedy - ask them if they have been through something like this. If they haven't, then ask them to please keep their opinions to themsleves as they can't possibly know what you are goig through - nor what any of the facts are!


Michelle Taylor
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JenM Offline OP
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Thanks, ladies! You all are such a blessing!

You know, in all of this anger, I forgot that he had been diagnosed years ago when he threatened to kill himself (which he was always doing, but his roommate assumed he was serious and called the cops and an ambulance and he was committed) with bipolar disorder as well. He had tried to take different medications for it, but he said they just didn't sit well with him, made him more aggressive. I assume he was probably drinking with the meds.

I too have dealt with depression for a good part of my life. Different medications, different treatments, but I never even realized that drug abuse/alcoholism/depression were connected! I don't know how I didn't see that because I had a problem after my dad died with taking more than the recommended dose of sedatives and finally began to see what exactly I was doing and stopped on my own, but it's a struggle some days not to go ask for more to help "ease the pain." I totally see that now. I can't believe I missed that!

I have requested the investigation report and am trying to find out how to obtain the autopsy report (because it may not come with the investigation report) to see exactly how much of the drugs were in his system. I know the ME entered on the DC that his death occurred minutes to hours after the "injury," but I want to know if he took the pills all at the same time, over a period of time that day, or what happened. I was thinking also since he had been out partying and didn't get home until the early a.m. of the 3rd that maybe he was hung over and decided to pop some pills so he could sleep. I don't know. This is just driving me crazy because I want to know what happened, how it happened, why it happened, and those are answers that I will probably never get. Even my mother said last night that maybe he did just lose track. She's been reading a lot about mixing vicodin and alcohol on the internet over the past couple days, of course, and she found something that said when someone drinks with the vicodin, it makes the vicodin a poison and it causes something to happen in the brain (I forget what she said), and whatever she read also said it will cause stomach bleeding, so that may be where the blood came from.

As far as all the people making the mean-spirited comments (who do it under the guise of just "stating the truth") - well, what's funny is they have their own problems to deal with that one would think would be more important and need addressed more than worrying about how my brother died, how he was found, etc. Each and every one of them have their own "back porch that needs swept off," but, of course, they don't see it that way. It's sad, really.

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Gecko
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*hugs* to you, Jen.

it's never easy to deal with; hang in there and good luck with finding the answers you need to find.


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Jen,

I am really sorry to hear that you have all of this on your mind and your conscience. It must be so hard to deal with all the questions and trying to understand your brother's motives with all of this. I mirror the advice that these wonderful ladies have shared with you. I want to reiterate that this is not your shame.

You also have every right to be fuming mad and angry!! So, don't try to put those emotions away. Scream into a pillow - it really does help. Your brother's death has left so much unsaid and incomplete, and has left you with questions and hurt. Be angry!

My sister, who is alive, is living with drug addiction, a marriage that is riddled with emotional and verbal (and I suspect physical) abuse, alcohol abuse, and depression. My family and I have tried so many times to find a way to help her through it but the reality is that this is something that only she can do. She has to want to do it and she needs to make her own way. I fear that one day I will get a call that she is dead. What I wanted to share with you is that I feel that my sister is a lost soul. And as impossibly hard as it is to just let that be what it is, I have no choice. Just like your brother was also a lost soul, and beyond your control.

I am really sorry that you have to deal with gossip and everything in your small town. That adds insult to injury. It is a good thing to come back to them with a comment asking if they have dealt with this themselves... it might shut them up.

You are not your brother. And it is a shame to know that his tragic life and death will be overshadowed by petty minds of people who likely didn't know him.

Thinking of you and sending my love,
Corinne

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Jennifer,
Of course you feel the way you do, you are still in shock, my dear. Losing a loved one is horrible, but losing a loved one to a drug related death can leave us reeling, confused, angry, guilt ridden, isolated. If you want to talk about this with others, let me know. I am always available to talk to anyone who has walked this road. There are many others out there who can understand all too well your pain. I lost my son, Kelly, to a heroin overdose. It will be 10 years next month, since then I have supported parents & loved ones all over the US & abroad, co-authored a book, BETWEEN TWO PAGES:Children of Substances, I have become drug law reform activist, I am on the speakers bureau for the King County Bar Assoc.Drug Project, in Seattle, I have a website www.childsub.org, & I speak at schools & drug court about drugs. I know all about your feelings, I wanted to die, not suicide, just lay down & die so I could be with my son. I love my son & I am not ashamed of him or how he died.Thank the Lord I didn't, because now I have a reason to on. Please don't be too hard on yourself. Your feelings are normal for what you have experienced. If you can't find the support & well being here, please go to www.griefnet.org & click onto substances. The wonderful people there saved my sanity. They held me up through the darkest times. They loved me unconditionally & understood my pain. Please contact me if you wish. [email]childsub@cs.com.[/email]
[color:"purple"] [/color] <img src="/images/graemlins/angel.gif" alt="" />


Susan Hubenthal Addictions and Children Host
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Chipmunk
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Hi, Jennifer! I just wanted to send good thoughts to you today and give you a big <hug>.

Prayers and love are with you! May you feel peace today.

Your friend,

Trish

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Gecko
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Jen, every day and night people are out drinking, and have "one more drink", wanting to maintain that buzz, not thinking about anything else: how much they already have ingested, or the fact that they do not need any more to keep feeling their buzz for a while longer. And the next day they pay dearly for it, realizing they did not need to drink as much as they had. When I suffered from horrible migraines, I was on Imitrex which is a scary drug. Several times my pain was so severe I could not remember if I had already taken a pill, or when. Rather than risk the consequences I would not take one. It was a miracle I could even think to make that decision. Several years ago my daughter's friends aunt, who suffered from migraines, died. She had a problem of not remembering if she had already taken her med. No one was home, she could not remember, so she took another one. Her husband came home from work and found her dead. It is so easy to do when you are not in your right mind. Try to remember the positive things. This sounds like an accident, since he just came off house arrest and had not been doing drugs. Rumors fly when there is a death that is not from natural causes. When my daughter died, the police were not able to answer some questions regarding the accident. I have thought and pondered and dwelled, and even driven past the site while it is raining, trying to figure out in my mind what happened. Her friend who was in the car cannot remember a thing. So I have let it go, it was just her time. And the rumors! People have come up to me and said thisnthat, and I correct them. It is amazing how much people gossip, and how quickly facts become twisted. Shame on those people! <img src="/images/graemlins/mad.gif" alt="" /> My daughter moved back in with us 7 months before she died, and I thank God every day we had that time together. Perhaps your brother being on house arrest was the only thing that kept this from happening sooner, and you, and he, got six months of him trying to live his life with some semblance of normalcy. Try not to let the busybodies get to you. Each day should get a tiny bit brighter. <img src="/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

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Gecko
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Hi everyone,
I have been so glad to read here the words of comfort that each of you shared from your own perspective. It helps to tell our stories and maybe glean a little more reason for our loved one's life each time. I have such empathy for you Jen.
My dearest friend (25 years) lost a daughter to cancer when the little girl was just 2- only a few years before Rose and I met. Just this past fall, Rose's second (and only surviving)child died of a drug overdose. He was 28. He had been through rehab for cocaine 3 times and they say he had been clean for 6 or more months, then I guess decided he could handle it just that extra time. He had a heart attack then a massive brain bleed. His mom's only thought for the first while was "how could he have been so stupid????" It seemed so senseless and wasteful. Although the family publically said he had died of a heart attack, of course there was speculation. It was tough for the family to stick to that story while suffering so intensely. Yet they felt it was truly no one else's business and telling the whole story would only satisfy the ghoulish appetites of the worst. This was in a large town, so I can only imagine how tough it must have been to keep dignity intact in your small community.
About 3 months after his death, my friend was finally cleaning out her son's room. She found a journal she didn't know he kept. What she read there was enough to make her crazy with the thought that he had perhaps committed suicide. It was terrible enough to lose her son... beyond horror to think that he had chosen to die.
We have chosen to believe that he did not intend to die and that is a helpful decison. He did not leave a note, he had made plans, etc. As for the journal, most of us keep one for the truly rotten days. I rarely write when I am very happy. I write when things are bad. Anyone reading my journal would think my life was awful! We had to decide the same thing might well have been true for Rose's son. It was tragedy enough that he died, without having to carry with us a dread that he wished to. Denial? Perhaps. But why not? Tragic enough as it is, right?
I wish you less pain every day and replacing it the comfort of good memories and times of laughter.
Hugs, Trishh


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Dear Jennifer,
I really cannot add much to the wonderful responses you have received.

I worked for three years with drug addicts and alcoholics, and I can definitely say that your brother probably DID take the combination which resulted in his death ACCIDENTALLY.

The minds of those who are trapped in this illness are never clear, and deep depression is always a factor which is constantly present. In that state, people often do not know what they are doing. They forget how much they have taken, and lose touch with reality.

I feel so deeply for your distress. THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT!

I think I can also go as far as to say that it is not his fault either. He was a victim of his illness, and it is an illness that is terribly hard to control.

You need feel no shame, guilt or embarrassment, no more than if your brother had died of cancer. He was very ill, and now he is free - however it happened.

Please do not beat yourself up over it, and do not allow others to sit in judgment of you or of him. THEY are not the ones who had to live with the pain, and no one can ever know the extent of another person's pain.

"Talk" to your brother in your heart, and tell him all that you feel. Tell him that you are angry BECAUSE you love him. I believe that somehow, somewhere, he will hear, and will know, and will be at peace. And Jennifer, you can be at peace too.

I am sending you all my love and I will keep you in my thoughts as you move on into the future.


Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
John Adams


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JenM Offline OP
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I want to thank each and every one of your for your words - they have helped me more than you will ever know and I am very appreciative of everyone taking the time to help me out here!

I feel a little better and have been and will continue to work through these feelings. It's hard, that's for sure. This whole situation is just so unfortunate and there is a lot of unnecessary guilt to contend with. I tried to help him so many times in so many ways and I know deep down, I did all I could and it was up to him, but now it feels like I just didn't do enough and I somehow could have done something more. I think that is where a lot of my anger is coming from. Reality is quite different and I need to get that into my thick skull.

You know, I've thought about talking to both him and my father, but I feel so silly because I don't know if they can hear me. I kind of hope they can, but I don't know. Maybe I will try that today since I am going to both graveyards to visit. It would probaby be easier to talk to my dad since I still "feel" his presence here and sometimes, I even smell "his" smell in certain rooms. At first it freaked me out, but now it's kind of comforting when it happens.

I am hoping this whole thing gets easier! I am a little over the 6 month mark for my dad and 3 month mark for my brother and have some pretty good days, but other times, it all comes flooding back and usually lasts for a week where I am just "weepy" and so sad, and I miss my father so very much, and I never thought it, but I also miss my brother. He did have a good sense of humor and was nice when he wanted to be.

Anyway, thanks everyone! I appreciate it.

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Here for you... anytime!

I too send thoughts and feel silly talking aloud to my mother and to my daughter... but it is easy to get used to doing. My friend lights a candle every night and sits next to it and talkes to her son. It allows her to wrap up her day, tell her son what is going on, and lets her feel connected to him.

If you find that you are very uncomfortable talking to them, I would urge you to begin writing them letters. I have also done that - mostly for my daughter, and it has been very healing.

Thinking of you and hoping that your visit today to their graves is peaceful and healing.

With love,
Corinne

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